There is not a clear-cut answer to any question regarding gardening—or budgeting! Therefore, you know that when you’re making a budget for a garden, there are all sorts of possibilities.

However, one thing is clear cut: You do have control over how much you spend on a potted garden.

The biggest benefit of gardening in the desert is that your largest expense—pots—will not freeze, so you do not have to worry about replacing them during a hard winter. In fact, if you spend money on really good pots, you should never have to replace them.

I am going to lay this out as if you are shopping at a local nursery, as there, I know your money is being well spent. However, at discount stores, consignment shops and yard sales, you might find real bargains that will cut this budget significantly.

  • Pots: For each grouping of three pots (18”, 22”, 24” interior diameter)—$475
  • Potting soil: Three or four 2-cubic-foot bags—$120
  • Specialty plants for largest pot—$45
  • Flowers and perennials: 32 4-inch plants—$75
  • Fertilizer (time-release fertilizer)—$20
  • Total: $735 plus tax

More larger pots will increase the price proportionately. Be sure to never short-change the soil or fertilizer. Also, be sure the plants you buy are appropriate for our desert climate.

Marylee Pangman is the founder and former owner of The Contained Gardener in Tucson, Ariz. She has become known as the desert’s potted garden expert. Marylee’s book, Getting Potted in the Desert, has just been released. Buy it online at Email her with comments and questions at Follow the Potted Desert at